Die Geister, die ich rief

Have a think about this.

Wickersham's Conscience

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” Illustration from around 1882 byF.Barth

The title to this post is a line from one of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe‘s best known poems, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” The poem is best known in the United States from the early Walt Disney cartoon, Fantasia, when Mickey Mouse, as the sorcerer’s apprentice, has a magic spell get out of control. The title is part of a couplet in Goethe’s poem that translates, “The spirits that I summoned / I now cannot rid myself of again.”

Goethe’s poem and the dozens of other, similar cautionary tales come to mind because Living Carbon, a San Francisco-based startup biotechnology company has produced genetically modified poplars and is planting them in the wild on a large scale, uncontrolled experiment. Living Carbon’s idea is to create trees that go twice as fast as normal, unmodified trees, in the name of carbon capture…

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